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Marlins' Willis becomes NL's first 13-game winner

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
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NEW YORK -- Dontrelle Willis looked like a giddy little kid, grinning broadly after his fourth shutout of the season.

Willis became the National League's first 13-game winner, pitching a three-hitter to lead the Florida Marlins past the New York Mets 3-0 Sunday.

"It's fun," Willis said. "If you're not having fun, I don't know what to tell you. It's a backyard game."

Willis (13-3) handcuffed the Mets, allowing just two runners after the first inning. He pitched his way out of a bases-loaded jam in the first and gave up only one hit over the final eight innings.

"The way he started, you don't know," Marlins manager Jack McKeon said. "They had a couple of back-to-back hits. But he settled down, made better pitches. He's been like that, pretty good most of the year. He's throwing strikes, changing speeds better than ever, keeping hitters off balance."

Willis struck out seven and walked one in his NL-leading fifth complete game, lowering his ERA to 1.89. Jon Garland of the Chicago White Sox is the only other 13-game winner in the majors.

Willis also felt a little lucky. In the ninth inning, he hit leadoff batter Mike Cameron with a pitch. Then, after Willis struck out Carlos Beltran, Mike Piazza banged a comebacker off the left-hander's leg. The ball rolled just a few feet away and Willis made the play.

"Those are the things that happen when you are going good," said Willis, who also singled and scored in the third. "Sometimes, the ball off your leg is in the dugout."

Florida scored against Victor Zambrano (4-7) in the first inning without hitting a ball out of the infield.

Leadoff batter Juan Pierre punched a single past third baseman David Wright, who was playing in to defend against a bunt. Pierre stole second on the first pitch to Luis Castillo, his 21st steal of the season. Castillo followed with an infield hit, and Pierre scored when second baseman Miguel Cairo threw wide for an error.

Singles by Cameron and Beltran helped the Mets load the bases with one out in the first, but Willis escaped by striking out Wright and Chris Woodward.

"The first inning was the key to the game," Beltran said. "We couldn't score after having the bases loaded."

Willis also was on base twice. In the third, he singled with one out and raced to third when Pierre dropped a double just inside the foul line in right field. Willis then scored on a passed ball.

Alex Gonzalez opened the Florida seventh with a single just beyond the reach of Cairo at second base. Willis walked on four pitches and Pierre advanced the runners with a sacrifice. Castillo delivered a sacrifice fly, making it 3-0.

After his first-inning trouble, Willis retired 10 straight batters before Woodward had a two-out double in the fourth. But Cairo flied out, and Willis did not allow another baserunner until he hit Cameron with a pitch in the ninth inning.

"They stayed aggressive after the first inning and I was able to get quick outs to keep my pitch count even," Willis said.

He improved to 6-1 with a 2.04 ERA in nine career starts against the Mets.

"Give Willis credit," New York manager Willie Randolph said. "We had him in the first inning but he didn't crack."

Notes

  • Florida's Juan Encarnacion reached base safely in 10 straight plate appearances before he grounded out in the second inning. Encarnacion, who went 0-for-4, had seven hits, two walks and was hit by a pitch in the first two games of the series.
  • Castillo stretched his Shea Stadium hitting streak to 31 games. It is the longest run in the 42-season history of the ballpark.
  • The Mets finished the first half of the season at 40-41. They were 41-40 last year.
 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
 
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Dontrelle Willis strikes out seven in his NL-leading fifth complete game, lowering his ERA to 1.89. (AP)
Dontrelle Willis strikes out seven in his NL-leading fifth complete game, lowering his ERA to 1.89. (AP)

Players of the Game
Florida

D. Willis
IP 9.0
H 3
ER 0
BB 1
K 7
Florida

J. Pierre
AB 3
R 1
H 2
HR 0
RBI 0
 

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Florida Marlins
Juan Pierre, CF3120101 .262
Luis Castillo, 2B3011000 .338
Miguel Cabrera, LF4010003 .340
Carlos Delgado, 1B4000014 .300
Juan Encarnacion, RF4000001 .283
Paul Lo Duca, C4000000 .304
Mike Lowell, 3B3010000 .219
Alex Gonzalez, SS4120011 .278
Dontrelle Willis, P3110103 .255
Totals323812213 
Batting
2B - Juan Pierre (8, Zambrano), Mike Lowell (23, Heilman)
SF - Luis Castillo (1)
SH - Juan Pierre (4)
RBI - Luis Castillo (17)
SB - Juan Pierre (21, 2nd base off Zambrano/Piazza)
CS - Luis Castillo (5, 2nd base by Zambrano/Piazza)
Team LOB - 7
Florida Marlins
Dontrelle Willis (W,13-3) 9300170 1.89
HBP - Cameron (by Dontrelle Willis)
Pitches-Strikes - Dontrelle Willis 111-74
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Dontrelle Willis 9-11
Batters Faced - Dontrelle Willis 32
New York Mets
Jose Reyes, SS4000020 .256
Mike Cameron, RF3010010 .292
Carlos Beltran, CF4010011 .262
Mike Piazza, C3000100 .261
David Wright, 3B4000024 .291
Chris Woodward, LF3010013 .330
Miguel Cairo, 2B3000001 .275
Jose Offerman, 1B3000000 .214
Victor Zambrano, P2000000 .148
   a- Gerald Williams, PH1000000 .000
    Aaron Heilman, P0000000 .000
Totals30030179 
a-grounded out for Zambrano in the 8th
Batting
2B - Chris Woodward (7, Willis)
Team LOB - 5
Fielding
PB - Mike Piazza (2)
E - Carlos Beltran (4, throwing error), Miguel Cairo (2, throwing error)
New York Mets
Victor Zambrano (L,4-7) 8733210 3.80
Aaron Heilman 1100010 4.43
HBP - Lowell (by Victor Zambrano)
WP - Victor Zambrano (4)
Pitches-Strikes - Victor Zambrano 113-73, Aaron Heilman 14-10
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Victor Zambrano 11-11, Aaron Heilman 1-1
Batters Faced - Victor Zambrano 33, Aaron Heilman 4
Game Information
Attendance - 37824
Game Time - 2:20
Temperature - 74
Umpires - Home - Jim Wolf, First Base - Sam Holbrook, Second Base - Randy Marsh, Third Base - Larry Vanover